Iran Guards hail rocket barrages of 'new Palestine'

Tehran (AFP) –


Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander on Wednesday hailed the Palestinian militants who have peppered Israel with rocket fire in the Gaza Strip's latest conflict.

"Today we are witnessing the birth of a new Palestine... fighting with missiles," Major General Hossein Salami said at a pro-Palestinian rally in central Tehran's Imam Hossein Square.

"A new Israel has also emerged, one that is broken, frustrated, downcast, that has lost confidence in itself," said Salami, whose country supports the Islamist militant groups in Gaza firing rockets at its arch-foe Israel.

The general, who heads the ideological arm of Iran's military, said the suspension last week of international flights to Israel's Tel Aviv airport because of rocket fire was "a first".

"The battle for Palestine is not only one of the Palestinians against the Israelis," he said, but one that "symbolises the battle of Muslims against world arrogance", the Islamic republic's term for the West.

Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket fire, in a conflict that erupted on May 10, have claimed 219 Palestinian lives, according to the Gaza health ministry, and killed 12 people in Israel, according to Israeli police.

The latest escalation was sparked after clashes broke out at Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of Islam's holiest sites.

This followed violence over Israel's planned evictions of Palestinian families from homes in the eastern sector's Sheikh Jarrah district.